Feeling Anxious. Since his return to Cape Evans Cheery-Garrard has recorded the estimated time the party can stay out, possible dates they could return and what other options there are available. The polar party were last reported going strong, they have food and they are not dependent on the dogs or help for a safe return. But a few days ago he noted, ‘we feel anxious now, but I do not think there is need for alarm till then, and they might get in well after that, and be all right’. He was referring to a date of March 26th when it would have been five weeks since the last return party made it back. Today the dogs barked at breakfast time and Cherry-Garrard recalls that they often did this when parties returned form the ice. There was a brief hope that Scott had returned but it turned out to be a seal.
Scott’s Journal 22nd march 1912. NO ENTRY
Commentary. Cherry-Garrards thoughts all stem from an opinion well recorded by him and Atkinson which created the shared perspective that Scott had food, they were going strong when last seen by the return party and did not need help. Yet within notes such as Cherry-Garrads anxiety is present and Atkinson declared that he did not believe the party were suffering from scurvy, as Teddy Evans was on his return, because Crean and Lashly were not. Hindsight allows a conversation on why they held that belief and didn’t swing to a worst possible scenario rather than stay with the best possible. It may be quite straightforward, their evidence backed up their stance, they may well have believed that the weather was not outside of expected conditions for the time of year, Scott had said he was not dependent on the dogs and the plan for food was clear with depots stocked. Perhaps they did ask themselves, or others, questions about the possible changes to plans, difficulties not foreseen and potential accidents to the men. But to admit that may mean taking action and perhaps they knew that possible action was limited. Atkinson was planning a trip out but it still was not seen as a rescue mission. Building a set of actions around the perspective you hold or that you wish to be true is a realistic threat to all leaders. Just because you want it to be true doesn’t make it so. That may be seen in the success of a product, a team or reading into feedback the message you want to hear rather than the one genuinely contained. Nothing is ever as good as you wish it to be or a bad as your worst fear. Leaders need followers who will help them balance their tendency to be over optimistic, not by crushing it as that is an essential part of the leaders art, but by ensuring it leads to the right decisions and actions.